Please TONE DOWN the perfume, ladies & gents (de la merde s’il vous plaît!)

perfume wine headache

The sky was partly cloudy yesterday, the temperature in the mid 70s, and there was gentle rain as I rolled into Houston from Austin on a early spring evening around 6 p.m.

It was a perfect storm: between the mild heat, the intense humidity, and the heavy Texas pollen, there was no way that I was going to avoid a major allergy attack.

By the time I managed to find a seat at one of my favorite Houston by-the-glass wine programs (which will remain nameless in order to protect the innocent), tears were literally rolling down both sides of my face and I had already retired one of the cloth handkerchiefs that I carry with me (these days, I make sure to have two on hand at any given moment).

It was nothing that a crisp, cool glass of Roter Veltliner, with a wonderful spearmint note, and a steaming bowl of Nova Scotia mussels couldn’t clear up in a matter of minutes.


An attractive, middle-aged woman joined a party sitting to my left, taking the seat in between me and her friends at the crowded bar.

The fragrance she was wearing was SO aggressive that it dominated even the marine aromas of the mollusks. And my lovely Roter Veltliner, with its gentle herbaceous nose, was sent adrift in a sea of chemically induced “honeysuckle.”

It was as if her fragrance were shouting SHOUTING at me.

I later discovered, feigning that my wife “might enjoy her perfume,” that the lady in question had just applied — and very generously, I may add — a lotion from Bath and Body Works, not an item “you can find on the shelves,” I was informed, but a special order item for which you must “be in the know.”

I’ve never been one to curb personal freedoms but is intense perfume or fragrance really necessary when you visit a fine dining venue?

The city of Houston still allows outdoor smoking areas in restaurants.

My thought would be to abolish the cigarette ghettos and banish the heavily perfumed to their own section outside.

As the French lover once exclaimed, after being trapped in the perfume cabinet for a week hiding from a jealous husband, de la merde s’il vous plaît!

9 thoughts on “Please TONE DOWN the perfume, ladies & gents (de la merde s’il vous plaît!)

  1. You said it brother…I’ve been thinking about a post like this for a while, and glad you stepped up to call people out.
    I know that folks don’t overdo it on purpose (most of the time) but I do think that we can be way too unconscious about the aromatics that they force on people around us. I’m usually pretty sensitive to volatile emissions, but we do all have the potential to become desensitized in certain contexts, and need to be vigilant.

    A few years ago, I was at a long tasting lecture of French and Italian wines, and right from the outset I was getting barnyard in every glass that was poured. It took until partway through the second flight, that I realized I was still wearing the hiking boots I’d had on when I was feeding and watering the donkeys earlier that morning!
    Luckily I was at the end of a row, a few seats from the other participants near to me, and had an extra pair of shoes in the car that I was able to change into.
    Embarrassing, but the lesson was well learned.

  2. I hear you so loud and so clear, bro.
    Did I read something about some upscale restaus banning perfumed customers? Maybe in SF? Or is that wishful remembering?

  3. Dr.j It was Sf I was working there when the ban happened and a severs we where so happy! Some of the Aromatics hit you like a rock and mess up the whole evening! miss ya love ya good post!

  4. I work at a Temecula Winery and we always ask our visiting guests to refrain from wearing perfume at tastings. It ruins the aroma of the wine and frankly is poor tasting etiquette. Love the idea of putting smokers and heavy perfume wearers outside. LOL

  5. Completely agree. Just last night I was at a tasting and some guy showed up in cologne smelling strongly at eight feet away. I can’t imagine how smokers perceive anything other than fruit and alcohol.

  6. Poverino.

    I find that Bath and Body Works scents are super aggressive. Walk through any medium to large mall in America and you can smell the store from a mile away. The parent company owns Victoria’s Secret. I guess they think loud is best.

  7. thanks for the solidarity, everyone… we’ve all been there… and Arlene, wow, what is up with Bath and Body Works?

    thanks for being here, yall… :)

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